Valentine’s Day. Or Singles Awareness Day. Your choice. A lot of people dread it as we inch towards the middle of February. Many of those individuals believing for a new relationship had really high hopes when January began that they would meet someone over the first six weeks of the year, and not be alone for Valentine’s Day. And perhaps nothing has happened yet. And it just doesn’t seem like anything will happen anytime soon. You just spent the Christmas holidays alone only a few weeks ago, and feelings of sadness and hopelessness can powerfully return and start to take over. And meanwhile, you’re still trying to fight the good fight of faith with your inner dialogue:

Don’t worry, it’s going to happen soon.

God knows my heart, and how much I long to meet someone.

He’s (she’s) just around the corner.

They’re going to be worth waiting for.

It just has to happen once.

The next one could be THE ONE.

I just need to delight myself in the Lord, and He is going to give me the desires of my heart.

I just need to believe that I have received it, and it will be mine!

He knows it’s not good for man to be alone, and so it’s going to happen at some point.

It has happened for pretty much everyone else, why not me?!

I totally get it. I’ve been there. For years. For decades. It’s not that you hate to see all of these new dating relationships and marriages all around you. You just want to be part of it. You just want your chance.

I’ve learned – and perhaps you’re learning – that nothing we do can force God’s hand. Nothing. We might think we can – with fervent prayer, self-sacrifice, Christian service, or any other of a number of things we try. It’s all about His timing, and His perfect plan. Most of the time – unfortunately – it’s not in line with our timing, and our perfect plan. And the sooner we are able to truly let go, the better.

But it’s so hard to let go.

Because it’s like, why is nothing happening!? Surely, there is something I can do to move this along….

But our efforts typically don’t work out, or don’t work out well. You probably know that from experience. At least I do. And the thing is, we do want His best. Relationships are hard enough with the best person for you, let alone someone who you settled for. In the depths of our being, we totally realize this.

If you are single and this is going to be yet another Valentine’s Day you spend alone, I just want to try to encourage you a little because I really do get it. Most of what I remember from my teens and my twenties is staring at my ceiling fan while trying to fall asleep at night, pining so hard for certain girls who were in my life at different seasons, and praying for some type of interest or reciprocation from any of them. Nothing ever happened. Not a single thing worked out with any girl. And now in retrospect I see that none of those girls were who He had for me.

First, it’s okay to struggle with your unfilled desire to be in a relationship.

It’s okay to be sad about it. God knows what hurts our hearts, and it hurts His heart too. He cares so much for us and our emotional well-being. He does. Just continue to be real with Him. Real, and raw, and honest. This will deepen your walk with Him as you allow Him to enter into your pain and just be there with you, carrying you through it.

Second, what helped me was just trying to intentionally and repeatedly set the desire down before Him, over and over again.

Of course, I would pick it up again and obsessively dwell on it and wish so badly for it and pray so hard for it, but I then I remembered that to really demonstrate my trust in Him, I had to lay it back down again in front of Him. He knows our needs even before we ask Him. This was a constant cycle, but it did consciously remind me that He is Lord over my entire life, which includes the romantic relationship that I’ve always wanted and always hoped for.

And honestly, He is the only one who has actual control over when it happens, and who it happens with.

Third, it’s worth spending the time you have during your season of singleness to prepare.

This is perhaps this is the hardest because you have to do it while often sad and often lonely. But I believed in my heart of hearts that it was going to happen one day. Eventually, I would meet someone. And she would be so amazing. And I would have someone to spend Valentine’s Day with. And the wait would be worth it.

And so I just wanted to be ready.

Yes, every year for what seemed like forever it was another Christmas, and birthday, and Valentine’s Day where I felt that gnawing, painful ache in the pit of my stomach that surfaces when you realize you are alone romantically. And so I tried to push that down and sought to busy myself in preparation by working on my character and my career and my fitness and my heart. You know, all the things I do have control over. I’ve written extensively about what to do while waiting, and I cannot emphasize how much it has mattered. If you struggle with drumming up the motivation to prepare, ask God for help. I don’t know if you’ll meet someone next month, or next year, or in five years, but when it happens, I want you to be ready so you can avoid the major problems that burn relationships and marriages down to the ground.

Fourth, try to keep believing.

You might say, “It may never happen. There’s no guarantee I won’t remain single for the rest of my life.” You’re right. I can’t promise that it will happen. But I feel that we can – and should – have hope for the things that we want, the things that are on our hearts (which often are placed there by Him). I don’t think we should repress or kill our desires simply to avoid the potential of pain or hope deferred. I feel like that’s cowardly, and unhealthy, and faithless. I know that most of us are familiar with Jeremiah 29:11, and I just love God’s words in the Message translation: “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”

The future you hope for.

That is so good. And I know it’s easy to get skeptical and cynical and apprehensively wonder, “What exactly does He mean by that?” but I don’t think you should read it with adultlike realism. I think you should read it with childlike faith.

My wish for you is if you’ve always wanted someone, that God has someone for you – to love and be loved by, to build a life with. But even if it doesn’t happen by this Valentine’s Day – or even the next one – I hope that you’ll keep being real with Him, keep surrendering your desires to Him, keep preparing your heart and your character and your life for it to happen, and keep believing in His goodness and provision when the time is right.

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